There was a celebration at Peter Butler's house on Saturday night, after preliminary results showed he was re-elected for a second term as CHB mayor.

Feeling chipper after a feed of bacon and eggs yesterday morning, he said it was a more relaxed occasion than last election, when mayoral hopeful Trish Giddens kept closing the gap as votes were counted, ending up with only 44 between them.

With 98 per cent of the voting papers in yesterday, Mr Butler had a comfortable lead of 310 votes on Mrs Giddens this time around, although she polled well with 2277 votes to Mr Butler's 2587.

"I'm very happy with the result," he said.


"I gave Central Hawke's Bay three damned hard years, I worked hard and am pleased to have the seat."

He was also pleased with the council make-up that will join him for the next three years, where all incumbents who stood were returned. Two councillors, Hilary Pedersen and Michael Waite, stood down this year.

Although the rankings might change, as of yesterday all rural ward incumbents were returned to office, and there were two new faces in the urban ward.

"In my final speech to the last council, I said I would love to have all eight councillors back, but I believe we have two very good new councillors with Kelly Annand and Andrew Watts.

"We're finally getting a bit of youth on to the council with Kelly. I think we have got a very good mix with some experience to go into the amalgamation debate, and we are all pro-dam."

The prospect of local body amalgamation was a hot election issue and Mr Butler, who has been vocally against joining with other councils, said he would like to think that an anti-amalgamation sentiment in the community determined the election outcome.

As well as his result over Mrs Giddens, who favoured unification, pro-amalgamation candidates David Tennent (rural) and Bruce Turfrey (urban) were significantly behind other candidates in the polling.

Terry Story was also openly supportive of amalgamation in the lead-up to this election. He was returned to office but, unlike last elections, preliminary results showed him behind anti-amalgamation candidate Mark Williams.

As of yesterday, voter return in Central Hawke's Bay was 53.04 per cent, 4949 voting papers, excluding those still to be processed and special votes.